Product-service systems (PSS) have been proposed as one approach towards increasing product longevity and achieving a more sustainable, low-carbon economy. Encompassing a range of different strategies – including extended producer responsibility, repair and remanufacturing, product renting and sharing schemes, and pay-per-use services – PSS often include a shift to access-based consumption, where the product is no longer owned by the consumer. We propose that the shift in ownership, and thus the location of responsibility for products, may play a role in public acceptance of these schemes. We conducted a series of four two-day workshops with members of the public (n=51), to explore this issue, using deliberative techniques to explore public perceptions of product-service systems. Two scenarios and materials were presented, describing different forms of PSS with different arrangements for ownership and responsibility for products. Overall, we found that while participants were not explicitly concerned with the lack of ownership of products under these schemes, the redistribution of responsibility that accompanied this was a serious concern. This was often rooted in a lack of trust in businesses, as well as other consumers, and led to a range of conditions being placed on participation in PSS. As such, the successful introduction of product-service systems will only be possible if careful consideration is given, not only to price and affordability, but also to deeply held values pertaining to trust and responsibility.
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